Stop The Presses!

So, in regards to my early pledges to update the website more often, I have clearly reneged. My other brewery related New Year’s Resolution, to be comfortable with the metric system, is going equally well.

On the bright side we have had a veritable onslaught of positive press during the Holiday and just post Holiday season. I suppose this is pretty good news!

Thanks so much to The Improper Bostonian, The Boston Phoenix, Boston.com/The Boston Globe, and Howl in Lowell!

The bad news, however, is that all of this positive press has quite literally sold us out of beer. I don’t even have any private stock to drink in my apartment. These are truly dark times.
 That sad, I have a batch of Cosmos and Illumination ready for bottling this weekend as well as more Cosmos, Enlightenment, and Rite of Spring in the primary fermenter. There’s also a batch of Enlightenment Brut just about ready to come off of the riddling racks. Salvation is near!

Anyways, thanks so much to everyone for sticking with us despite my inability to keep an inventory. One of these days I’ll get this whole business thing figured out. For now though, here’s a nice photograph of a glass of Rite of Spring: Honey Saison. Oh, and one of Enlightenment batch #5, because I never get tired of photos of beer.

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A Long Expected Update

So, as usual, it’s been half as long as the age of the Earth since I’ve updated the website. Someday they will build monuments to my laziness.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of everything that’s been going on…

First off, Cosmos: Export Stout has been released! Batch #1 is now on shelves with batch #2 maturing in the brewery. Batch #3 should be brewing next week. I suggest enjoying a bottle with good friends and the winter night sky. Happy solstice!

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Check out that label! Props to Liz Jacobs and Jeff Jacobs!

Oh, and here’s a family photo:

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In other non-Cosmos related news, test batching has begun on one of my favorite beer styles: Barleywine! So far I’ve brewed 45 gallons for a test batch.  Once I get this bottled and consumed this winter (taking extensive notes the whole time I’m sure) I plan on brewing 180 gallons to be aged during the summer for a 2013 winter release.  Lord Mantis is coming.

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In case you’re somehow not quite bored yet with all of my updates, you’ll be excited to learn that I’ve also begun brewing the first batches of my early spring beer, “Rite of Spring.” This Honey Saison is brewed with 15% Massachusetts wildflower honey, dry-hopped with generous quantities of Palisades and Hallertau Mittelfruh, and bottle conditioned with wild rustic yeast.

Alright, I’ve reached my mental limit. More updates to follow VERY soon.  First, however, sleep.

Cheers!-Ben

 

Winter Is Coming…

…And so is Cosmos!

In celebration of the cold, clear, winter nights soon to arrive, I’ll be brewing “Cosmos: Export Stout” this Monday morning. A big, warm, oatmeal stout brewed to ‘export’ strength, Cosmos is a beer I plan of drinking while stargazing in the White Mountains.  Or, you know, on any cold night I guess.
 Hopefully we should have this, o third beer, out by mid-December.

Here’s a sneak peak of the painting of Cosmos I picked up today from my close friend and artist Liz Jacobs:

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I know!  WOW.  In case you’re unaware, Liz and her brother Jeff are responsible for everything you see when you buy a bottle of Enlightenment Ales. Liz is a local artist working with a variety of media. For each Enlightenment label, I commission Liz to paint an original painting inspired by the concept behind the beer. Once each painting is finished, Jeff incorporates the work into a label and makes everything beautiful.  Not only are they immensely talented, they’re both just awesome people.

Check out Liz’s other work: http://www.makeshifteyes.com/index.html

In other news, Illumination: Farmhouse IPA is selling out! Batch #3 is now on shelves.  Batch #4 was brewed last Thursday and is now just about ready for its first dry-hopping.  You can even find it on tap occasionally at Deep Ellum in Allston, The Independent in Somerville, and the Cambridge Common in Cambridge.  Lord Hobo in Cambridge should have some soon as well.

Woot!

 

Q: “Is this true?”

A: Yes, it’s true: this man has no discipline in updating his brewing blog. 

So, here’s a quick wrap up of everything that’s happened at Enlightenment Ales since May:

-I brewed four batches of Enlightenment Brut and two batches of Mortality, a Belgian-style dark strong ale with black currants.

-Enlightenment Brut was officially released at Deep Ellum in Allston, MA on July 12th!  Woo-hoo!

-Enlightenment Brut is now for sale all around Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. See our beer-finder for locations.

-We’ve had tastings at Pemberton Farms, Ball Square Fine Wines, and Julio’s Liquors. 

-We poured our beers at the Drink Craft Beer Summerfest.

-I’ve come close to full physical and mental collapse after spending every waking moment of my life making Enlightenment Ales continue to function for the past six months.

-I have planned a three day vacation.

 

Now that you’re caught up with what we’ve been doing here’s what’s coming up:

-I will be brewing a 3 bbl batch of “Illumination”.  After playing with the recipe quite a bit Illumination has become what I’m referring to as a Farmhouse IPA.  Built around the body, malt bill, and yeast profile of a rustic Belgian-style Saison and hopped like an American IPA, this fruity, spicy, and tropical tasting ale will be out just in time to celebrate the end of summer and the bounty of the fall harvest. Bottle conditioned and double dry-hopped with Motueka, Cascade, and Styrian Goldings this odd take on a Belgian-IPA should satisfy even the hop-head lobby. Move over Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ales, Illumination is coming!

-As you may know our fermenters here at Enlightenment Ales are designed to allow the Belgian-style beers we produce ferment by ‘free-rising’ to very high temperatures.  However, with the prospect of winter approaching I’m working on finalizing and scaling up the recipe of a homebrew favorite of mine.  “Cosmos” a 7.0-7.5% Export Stout with generous amounts of oatmeal will be brewed as soon as this oppressive heatwave ends. My glycol chilling system is not quite up to the task of battling the hottest summer months in recorded American history. So, look for “Cosmos” and its yet-to-be-named imperial barrel-aged big brother on shelves this winter!

 

Lastly we have some very exciting tastings coming up!  If you’re in the area please feel free to join me to drink beer and talk about brewing!

Here’s the current schedule:

8/17 Downtown Wine & Spirits, Somerville, MA, 5:00 pm

8/24 Colonial Spirits, Acton, MA, 5:00 pm

9/1 Charles Street Liquors, Boston, MA, 5:00 pm

 

 

Tacos and Barrels, Strange Bedfellows Indeed…

Despite the fact that nothing has been brewed in the last 2+ weeks here at Enlightenment Ales it’s been pretty damn exciting!

For starters, Todd Alstrom (of Beer Advocate fame) has invited me to participate in Todd’s Taco Takeover at Green Street Tavern. This will be, for all intents and purposes, a super secret sneak preview of Enlightenment Ales.

The event is on May 30th at 5 pm.

$3.99 gets you a taco by Chef Greg Reeves and a glass of Enlightenment Brut. I’ll be there to drink beer, eat tacos, and ramble on ad nauseum about riddling, disgorgement, and dealing with red tape…  So come say HI!  The fun thing about this event is that it will be super limited in scope.  I’m bringing two cases of bottles.  When they run out, I’m out.

Check out more details about the event here on Beer Advocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/events/info/54137

In other Boston Beer Week news Enlightenment Ales has been invited to take part in a collaborative brew for the ACBF.  Brewmaster Will Meyers, my former boss and continuing mentor (although don’t tell him that), has helped plan and organize a collaborative brew between Cambridge Brewing Company and a few new local MA breweries.  Participating will be Mystic Brewery, Idle Hands Craft Ales, Night Shift Brewing, Cambridge Brewing Co. and Enlightenment Ales. I’ll post more details on the brew once we have it knocked out and in the tank!

For now, make sure to check out these other awesome local breweries:

http://www.mystic-brewery.com/

http://www.nightshiftbrewing.com/

http://www.idlehandscraftales.com

http://www.cambridgebrewingcompany.com

Oh, and try their beer!

Alright, now for the news that’s most exciting to me:

As of May 3rd Enlightenment Ales has acquired three used port casks from Sam Adams. These 500 liter bad boys will be used to store and age three very special beers.  The first, “Cosmos”, will be a big, warm, smooth Imperial Stout to be released (hopefully!) some time around the beginning of winter.  While I’m still working on the details it looks like the other two will be “Mortality”, a huge Belgian-style dark ale, and an as-yet-unnamed Brewer’s Reserve expression of Enlightenment Brut.  These will hopefully be used to celebrate our one year anniversary next year!

The wheels of progress continue to turn…

Alright… As of Tuesday night we have officially filed our articles of incorporation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts! Now I guess we just wait for Billy Galvin (the Secretary of the Commonwealth) to stop by for a beer and drop off the final paperwork. That’s how it works, right? I’m only days (maybe weeks) away from officially becoming a corporate stooge.

In other news the new burner for the kettle has finally arrived and we have mock-up labels for the bottles! Check out that badass burner:

We’re currently working with a few graphic designers/friends to figure out the best label design. Here’s the one Liz’s brother Jeff Jacobs is working on. Obviously it’s still lacking text:

Also, here’s a shot of a prototype bottle I’m using for tastings/pre-selling with restaurateurs and package store owners. I just printed these off at Staples and paper cemented it to the bottle. Hopefully they’ll look a bit better when the label maker prints them:

Alright, back to work…

The Disgorgement Video!

If we’re “friends” on facebook you’ve seen this video before. Prepare to see it again! Now on my website, WOW!

Seriously though, this is a video of the disgorgement process. While my final set-up will be more efficient, this is essentially the process every single bottle of Enlightenment goes through to remove the yeast prior to corking.

The Brewery Location

Taking a quick break from sexy pics of equipment I figured I’d post a few pictures of the space we are most likely going to be leasing.

My friend Vahdat and I checked out the location in Ayer, Massachusetts several weeks ago. It’s almost perfect: there are drains in the floor, easy access to propane, hot and cold water, overhead sprinklers, a large 12′ roll up garage door, and even a bathroom!

After deciding that this might be ‘the’ location I contacted the town of Ayer to get their thoughts on having a brewery in their town. Finally, after a very formal letter from my friend and attorney Phil and a sitdown meeting with the town’s administrator and business development guru we have approval to be brewing beer in Ayer, MA!

Hopefully we should be signing the lease within the week.

Tanks!

So here’s a few pictures of the tanks we have so far. Out initial brewery set-up will be three 500 liter fermenters and two 300 liter conditioning tanks.

I’m using stainless steel flat bottom wine fermenters for our vessels. As much as it sucks to be using flat bottom vessels the beers we are brewing are very high gravity and use multiple yeast strains. This makes cropping and reusing yeast for several generations futile. As such, I see no reason to further sink myself into crushing debt for conical bottoms!

The other major issue with using these rather… crude vessels is of course temperature control. As you can see the tanks are basically just big metal cylinders, little more. Here’s the plan:

After brewing Enlightenment Brut and other Enlightenment beer dozens of times at home I’m confident that relatively unrestricted fermentation is going to produce the flavors I want. The yeasts I’m using love warmer temperatures and produce their most interesting flavors once they get rocking in the 80’s! However, we DO need someway to ‘override’ the fermentation temperature is it skyrockets too much or drops into the 60’s.

For the three fermenters we will be wrapping the tanks with several coils of copper tubing and covering this tubing with heavy layers of insulation. There will be a fitting for a garden hose at the top of the tank’s copper tubing system which will allow us to cycle hot or cold water through the tubes to either heat or cool the liquid within. Hopefully this will only need to be used very rarely.

As for the bright beer tanks, a similar copper tubing system will be built around the vessel. In this case, however, the tubing system will be connected to a solenoid valve which is in turn hooked up to a temperature controller/sensor. This controller has a temperature probe that lives in the thermalwell which we had welded into the side of the tank. If the temperature gets too high (above 35 degrees Fahrenheit or so) the solenoid clicks open allowing VERY cold glycol to be pumped through the copper coils.

This is a part of the project I am decidedly NOT looking forward to!

So far we have only had one of the tanks, our first 300 liter BBT welded. Thanks to Josh the welder for working for working for growlers of CBC amber and material costs.